Rosmah’s involvement in govt under scrutiny in corruption trial

Sri Ram said Rosmah had placed herself in a position where she was able to influence decisions in the public sector, despite not holding any official position


THE role of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor — the wife of former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak — was scrutinised in the first week of corruption trial.

The trial, which was initially set to begin last Monday, had to be postponed to last Wednesday as Rosmah was on medical leave, much to the dissatisfaction of the prosecution team led by Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.

On the first day of trial, Sri Ram in his opening speech stated that Rosmah had placed herself in a position where she was able to influence decisions in the public sector, despite not holding any official position.

“The prosecution will lead direct and circumstantial evidence to show that the accused solicited a bribe and received gratification as alleged in the charges brought against her,” said Sri Ram.

Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd is a private limited company, which, according to the prosecutor, wanted an award of a contract to carry out a solar hybrid project purportedly to benefit some 369 rural schools across the interior of Sarawak.

“Evidence will be led to show the active role played by the accused to obtain the project for Jepak. In return, she solicited and obtained a bribe,” he said.

A staff at the Prime Minister’s Office told the court how the Prime Minister’s Department had maintained a so-called “First Lady of Malaysia” division, but it was later rebranded after getting negative publicity.

The highlight of the proceeding was on the second day of trial, when former Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid testified that Rosmah’s associates were discontented with a mere pilot project of a RM1.25 billion solar power supply contract and asked for a technical process bypass.

The fifth prosecution witness in the corruption trial told the court that Rosmah’s former aide Datuk Rizal Mansor had questioned the Education Ministry’s decision to only award a pioneer project to Jepak despite an endorsement by Najib.

“Datuk Rizal also told me that Datuk Seri Najib Razak made the decision and ‘ma’am’ also knew about the Jepak hybrid solar. He (Rizal) had asked me why there was a need for other requirements.”

“I told Rizal that it was a decision by the Education Technical Committee and I only agreed with their decision,” Mahdzir said in the trial last week, according to Bernama. Mahdzir said he knew that “ma’am” referred to Rosmah and Rizal was calling on her behalf.

He also testified that Jepak MD Saidi Abang Samsudin had regularly contacted him between December 2015 and May 31, 2016, asking to expedite the approval of the solar hybrid job.

“I was under the assumption that Saidi wanted to take over the entire diesel genset project with my help, however, I rejected his proposal as the ministry was still bound by the existing contracts. At that time, Saidi agreed with me,” he said.

However, on Dec 23, 2015, Mahdzir said he received a minute from Najib which read: “Bersetuju dilaksanakan sistem baru ini dan batalkan sistem lama (Agree that the new system be implemented and the old one cancelled).”

The Padang Terap MP also testified that he was pressured by Rosmah to speed up the approval process of the project, particularly on June 8, 2016, after the breaking of fast banquet at the PM’s residence in Putrajaya.

“When I was shaking Datin Seri Rosmah’s hands before heading off, she in a way told me to ‘you tengok la project solar Cikgu Aazmey. Cepatkan sikit’ (Please take a look at Cikgu Aazmey’s solar project. Speed it up).”

Mahdzir said he understood Rosmah’s message as an instruction to expedite the approval process for the solar hybrid project to Jepak given her influence and position as a wife of then-PM.